HC Deb 23 January 1962 vol 652 cc2-3
1. Mr. Parker

asked the Minister of Works whether he will now make a further statement on the proposal to remove the museum from the Banqueting Hall, Whitehall.

8. Sir P. Agnew

asked the Minister of Works if he is now able to make a statement about the future of the Banqueting Hall, Whitehall.

The Minister of Works (Lord John Hope)

The Royal United Service Institution has expressed its readiness to vacate the Banqueting House. Her Majesty The Queen has approved and has granted the use of the Banqueting House to the Government.

In future the public will see this masterpiece of Inigo Jones' as it was meant to be seen, for the first time for over 250 years.

Mr. Parker

Is the Minister aware that there will be general satisfaction on both sides of the House at his Answer? Can the right hon. Gentleman say what arrangements have been made for furnishing the building in its new rôle?

Lord John Hope

I shall have to consider the details of what to suggest with regard to that. The first stage is to know that one is able to get in there, and I should like to take this opportunity, as I am sure the House would like me to, to thank the Institution for its great co-operation over this. No one could leave the Banqueting House without reluctance, and I am deeply grateful to the Institution. It will, of course, be continuing its educational work from its adjacent headquarters.

Sir P. Agnew

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this result is the outcome of a very long cherished wish on the part not only of his own Department at present but of his predecessors in it as first Commissioners of Works that this historic and great building should come to a worthy use with the free acquiescence, of course, of those who are now giving up their Royal Charter? Is not the Council of the Royal United Service Institution deserving of some thanks for the action it has now taken?

Lord John Hope

I am most grateful to my hon. Friend for what he has said, and I entirely agree.

Sir K. Pickthorn

Can my right hon. Friend give the House any notion of what is to become of the contents of the museum and can we be assured that they will be kept together and be not much less accessible to the public than they have been?

Lord John Hope

That is entirely a matter for the Royal United Service Institution.

Sir K. Pickthorn

In that case, then, my right hon. Friend can—

Mr. Speaker

Order. We have spent as much time as we can on that.